Local man’s sons stand tall for him when he suffers heart attack at Roush

Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Aug. 29, 2013.

Richard Andrew Teusch towers over his two young sons.

And he looks up to them.

"I think they're heroes," he says.

Without them, Teusch believes, he never would have survived the heart attack he suffered deep in the woods of the Roush Fish and Wildlife Area.

Twelve-year-old Russell Teusch, sitting with his dad and brother in the living room of their Andrews home, just shrugs his shoulders and grins.

"I'm glad he's alive," he says.

The trip into the woods late in the afternoon of Aug. 16 was one of the first times Richard, Russell and 9-year-old Ryan had gone squirrel hunting together.

Richard, who's been hunting since he was a kid, was slowly introducing his sons to the sport. They'd both taken a hunter's education class in February, and Richard had helped Russell and Ryan assemble safety equipment - a compass, an emergency whistle and the like - to keep in their hunting vests.

It was a good afternoon. The trio had been tromping around in the woods for about an hour when it happened.

"I started getting one symptom, after another symptom after another symptom," Richard says. "All the classic symptoms."

He had no history of heart problems, but he was having chest pain, profuse sweating, pain in his left arm. He knew it was time to turn around.

"I had to get the boys out," he says. "I didn't want to expire there."

About three-quarters of the way out of the woods, near a fallen tree, Richard fell to the ground.

"When I saw him fall down, I thought he was going to die," Russell says. "I was really scared."

"I was scared, too," Ryan says.

Richard told the boys to call 911, and Russell pulled the cell phone out of his dad's pocket to make the call.

"He kept calm and cool and gave them the exact location," Richard says.

Russell says he knew their location because his dad had told him where they were before they entered the woods, even showing him the location on a map.

"I told them we went in at sign-in station five," Russell says. "I told them he was having a possible heart attack."

Emergency help was sent. Hank Davis, a first responder with the Markle Volunteer Fire Department, was the first to reach the site, just a few minutes after the call went out. Davis found the right spot, parking next to the Teusches' vehicle.

"Because of the precise location Russell gave, he was able to get there," Richard says.

But the family was still in the woods, Richard on the ground unable to move, not visible from Davis's location.
Davis honked his horn to alert them of his presence, and Ryan sprang into action.

"I pulled out the whistle," Ryan says. "I blew it once. Then he (Richard) got up and he said I didn't have to do it anymore."

Until Ryan blew the distress whistle - which makes a shrill, high-pitched sound - Richard was on the ground, aware of his surroundings but unable to respond. The whistle not only alerted Davis to their location, but also roused Richard.

"Ryan did that unprompted," Richard says. "That gave me enough energy to get back on my feet."

The trio started again to walk toward their car.

"We got out of the woods," Ryan says. "We almost got to the car, but Hank said he has to sit down so we can check him."

Davis determined that Richard was in big trouble; he also calmed the boys. Before Richard was whisked away to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, where he spent four days in intensive care, he was able to call a friend, Marlin Sands. Sands arrived within minutes, taking care of the boys, the vehicle and the weapons.

At Lutheran, doctors told Richard that the right side of his heart was 100 percent blocked and inserted three stents to relieve the blockage.

"If I had lost time, if they would have had to search for us, I would have died," Richard says. "I was very proud of them when they kept their cool and did all the right things.

"I've tried to prepare them for emergencies. What I've taught them and what they learned in hunter's education paid off. I'm still here."